5. Wes Montgomery
To the surprise of probably any Jazz fan, whether they’re a guitarist or not, Wes would most likely be on the top 3 of any ranking. I can completely agree with most that would like to say Wes is one of, if not the greatest, Jazz players ever for any instrument. For me personally, for all of the Wes records I have listened to and all of the Wes songs I have tried to learn, his playing does not click for me like other guitarists. His chord melodies are undoubtedly the greatest, no argument there, but my playing revolves around a different style. Maybe Wes is just too difficult for me.
4. Ted Greene
Sort of the odd one out of the entire list as Ted Greene would probably not fall under most people’s “favorite” guitarists, but rather under most “respected” and “influential” lists. I have similar reasoning for putting Greene on my list as he was largely more influential in expanding my chord vocabulary rather than his playing alone, which is extremely beautiful and unique.
3. Joe Pass
Probably the most virtuosic player on this entire list, Pass’s playing truly speaks for itself, especially his solo playing on his record “virtuoso” in which Pass covers multiple standards in his own unique solo guitar technique. No list would be complete would be complete without Pass, he has built a legacy for being the pinnacle of Jazz Guitar ability and is always the first to be mentioned in a conversation about jazz instrumentalists, especially guitar.
2. Tal Farlow
A traditional bebop player nicknamed “Octopus” for his massive hands that allowed him to play such stretched out phrases and arpeggios. In terms of bebop playing, Farlow is always regarded as the pioneer of soft and hard bop playing, with his single note phrasing being the mark for the next generation of aspiring bebop players.
1. Larry Carlton
My favorite guitarists in all respects and sort of an unfair player to put on this list as his playing is far less traditional than Farlow or Montgomery. Although Carlton has recorded multiple traditional Jazz records, they are far less known than his later work that blended elements of Jazz with Blues and Rock seamlessly. The work that Carlton produced early in his career are considered as some of the greatest Jazz Fusion records of all time, for any instrument. Carlton broke down every genre barrier and explored them all through his multiple albums and has been my biggest influence in pushing my playing.